Monday, 14 October 2019

Bullying – Part 2 – Warning signs that your child might get bullied

Bullying – Part 2 – Warning signs that your child might get bullied
Written by: Yolandi Singleton
October 2019

It is always unpleasant to think about the possibility that your child might get bullied. It is an unfortunate reality that many kids are confronted with, especially having to face embarrassment when the bullying gets broadcasted on social media these days.

Children who get bullied often suffer severe emotional trauma especially when they feel lonely and perceiving that they can not tell anyone about it – therefore facing the issue on their own. A positive relationship with your child, including honest and open communication with them is therefore of cardinal importance so that they will be assured of your commitment and dedication towards them. I can not overemphasize the significance of your consistency in this regard.  Believe it or not, when your child really feels cared for and nurtured and perceives their parent to be entirely available to them at any time, they are much less likely to get bullied.

In the same breath, we can never predict children’s behavior. Your child might get bullied for various reasons, but it is mostly due to the person who bullies being jealous of the child who they bully or recognizing low self-esteem and therefore an easy target to control. In other words, children with good self-esteem are less likely to get bullied. Some children who bully other children are often bullied themselves or witness violent behavior in their homes or in the communities they are from and therefore normalize such behavior, especially if they are not guided by their families about socially appropriate behavior or effective conflict resolution.

Before I start listing some signs to look out for that indicates that a child might get bullied, it is important to bear in mind that some children never show any signs. Therefore, once again, it is important to ensure and commit to maintaining an open relationship with your child. If it means that you need to apologize to your child for often being unavailable to them in the past, do it. Do whatever you can to restore the communication so that your child will open up to you when they need you, such as when getting bullied.

The following signs are common indicators that a child possibly gets bullied or at risk to get bullied (remember that some of these signs could also indicate something else might be wrong):

  • Having injuries, but refuse to talk about them or even lie about it
  • Having dirty and torn clothes and also refuse to discuss it
  • Having regular excuses not wanting to go to school – even fake illnesses
  • Psychosomatic symptoms such as nausea, headaches or stomach aches
  • Complain about not having friends and sitting alone during break time
  • Express feeling afraid to walk alone around on the school grounds
  • Showing unexplained aggressive behavior towards family members or other children smaller than them
  • Sudden change in mood and behavior – showing more emotional vulnerability
  • Isolating themselves on a regular basis
  • Withdrawing from activities they used to like
  • Often feeling tired – which could mean that the child struggles to sleep or get nightmares
  • Express suicide thoughts, especially if some of the abovementioned signs are also present (remember that bullying alone will not cause children wanting to commit suicide, but rather in conjunction with other social or emotional challenges. Children who are from difficult home circumstances, including parental fights, domestic violence, dealing with a significant loss, lack of parental support, feeling lonely or being abused or neglected and then also getting bullied are much more likely to develop feelings of depression and suicidal thoughts.
Allow me to encourage you that when your child gets bullied, there are people willing to assist and support you and your child. Therefore, monitor your child and rather report any concerns to a professional until you feel you received the applicable help.
In my next article, I will cover some steps you can take when being confronted with a child getting bullied…

Be aware… until next time. 

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